What’s in the libary? – Buckle Carriers

So, what types of carrier are available to try in the library? I have split the types of carrier into separate blog posts and first up is buckles! As you’ll see, there are differences in waistband, strap types, panel size and adjustability. A sling libary can help you find the right one for your needs (a bit like trying on lots of different jeans!). Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have more questions about the suitability of any carrier.

boba 4g

 

Boba 4G (black) – this buckle carrier has a structured waistband and padded, rucksack style straps. Suitable from 7 to 45lbs and including a newborn booster cushion plus a removable hood. The straps and waist are very adjustable, fitting heights of 5’0-6’3, and waists of 25” to 58″ and there are lots of little extras like a breastfeeding buckle, shoulder bag tab and phone pocket.  You can carry in front facing in and back positions.

 

 

 

 

ergobaby original

 

Ergobaby original  – This buckle carrier also has a structured waistband and padded, rucksack style straps. Suitable from 12 to 45lbs, it has a removable hood and large front pocket. You can carry in front facing in, back and hip positions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISara

Isara (tropicana) – Also has a structured waistband and padded straps, with option to have rucksack style or crossed. Suitable from 8.8-44lbs. The seat is adjustable from 26 – 30cm to ensure the “frog” position and the main panel from 31-45cm to give good back support to babies of a range of ages and heights. Adjusting this asymmetrically can support breastfeeding. You can carry in front facing in, back and hip positions.

 

 

 

 

Izmi baby/toddler – Also has a structured waistband (toddler more than baby) and wide straps, with option to have rucksack style or crossed. The seat in both is adjustable to ensure a good fit and the straps are two-way adjustable. It is lightweight, suitable from 7lbs-33lbs and you can carry in front facing in/out, back and hip positions.

 

 

lillebaby complete

Lillebaby Complete All Seasons – this carrier has a structured waistband and dual-adjust padded straps, with the option to have rucksack style or crossed. Suitable from 7-35lbs, it has an additional, removable lumbar support piece to relieve lower back pressure. There is a removable hiid and the front panel comes off to reveal a mesh under-layer for hot weather. The seat has different settings to widen or narrow for a good fit and you can carry in front facing in/out, fetal, back and hip positions.

 

 

standard connecta

Standard (baby) Connecta – in contrast  with the other carriers, the Connecta has an unpadded waistband and very lightly padded straps, with the option to have rucksack style or crossed. Suitable from 7.5-52.5lbs, it has an integrated hood and the seat is cinchable to ensure a good fit. Its is a very lightweight carrier and you can carry in front facing in and back positions.

 

 

 

 

standard tula

Standard (baby) Tula – This buckle carrier also has a structured waistband and padded, rucksack style straps. Suitable from 15 to 45lbs, (from 7lbs with newborn insert) it has a removable hood and small pocket on the waist. You can carry in front facing in and back positions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further reading :

Buckle Carrier Comparison Chart

Buckle Carrier Measurements – South East Slings

Positioning

How can you tell your baby is well supported and comfortable in a sling? Mostly, they’ll let you know if they’re not! However, there are some key guidelines to follow in order to check fit and comfort for parent and baby. Remember that manufacturer guidelines for carriers (especially those purchased secondhand) can quickly become out of date, or can be incorrect, as can YouTube how to videos not made by professionals. Historically we would have had the support of our “village” and plenty of experienced family members to pass on their knowledge, but in our modern lives this can be lacking.  If you are unsure how to use a sling safely, try attending a sling meet or booking a consultation. 

For the wearer:

When the sling is on, it should not put any strain on your back, neck or shoulders and you should feel comfortable and secure. If you don’t feel this way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the “wrong” sling for you, but it may just need some tweaks on positioning or adjustment.

For the baby:

Your baby’s back should be well supported in a C shape and their head should be clear of their chest. Their legs should be supported in the M or J shape as shown at the top of this article. This upright position mimics an in arms carry and as babies often spend their first few months all tucked up, supporting this position for them is the most comfortable. Once a baby is well positioned in a sling their airways are free, fabric should not be covering their face and they often drift peacefully to sleep. Check that the sling supports the baby’s bottom to be lower than their knees, and that the fabric does not extend past their knee pits forcing their legs straight. This can often be overcome by cinching the waistband, but check with your local meet or consultant to be sure.

As mentioned in the previous article about sling safety, babies should be high, tight, in view, close enough to kiss, with their chin off their chest and their back well supported. For this reason, lying down (sometimes called “cradle” position) in a carrier is not recommended. If you’d like to feed in a sling, try to keep baby upright and if this is not possible keep a close watch and return them to the upright position when the feed is finished.

Newborn-85x11-01.jpg

For older babies and toddlers:

Ask them! Make sure the carrier you use has been tested to support the weight of your child, and they still need to be well held across their back, bottom and legs. If they do fall asleep, ensure their head is well supported so they do not strain their neck. Many families carry comfortably through the pre-school years, it’s a case of finding the right carrier and fit.

Toddler-85x11-01.jpg

Other considerations:

If you are carrying on your back, make sure the sling you are using is age and weight appropriate. For example, many SSCs do not hold a smaller baby high enough to be visible and safe, conversely a stretchy wrap is not recommended for a back carry except by an experienced wearer or with the help of a professional as it is a tricky carry to get right safely.

A final thing to consider for safe and comfortable carrying is the weather! Here are two great links from Sheffield Sling Surgery about carrying in both heat and cold. The sling you use may add up to 3 extra layers on your baby and overheating can be a real risk.

Babywearing in summer weather

Babywearing in winter weather

Choosing a sling – Part 1

So, you’re sold on the benefits of babywearing, you’re all set to buy one and you have a quick look in Mothercare. The slings you see don’t seem to be very comfortable, and are quite expensive to buy without trying. You get home, you check Amazon and there are thousands of results – how can you narrow it down?

I’ve mentioned before about getting to a sling library/to see a sling consultant as they can go through many of your options with you and you can physically see and try on the carriers. However, it’s always helpful to have a rough idea of what you need/want, especially at busy meets where your time might be limited.

First of all it’s good to make a note of your requirements. These include:

  • age of baby/child
  • weight of baby/child
  • height and size of user(s)
  • whether you are pregnant/will become pregnant while using the carrier
  • number of children you would like to be able to carry
  • any medical/physical needs of the baby/child or person carrying
  • the budget you have to spend

Then it’s useful to think about why you want to use a sling, and what features would be most helpful for you:

  • being able to breastfeed in it
  • able to adjust to fit very differently sized parents/carers
  • how long you can use it for (as child ages)
  • different kinds of carrying position (front, back, hip etc.)
  • requiring a bit of skill/practice to perfect
  • speed of getting baby in/out
  • choice of colours, patterns
  • accessories available

Knowing these things ahead of time can help your library worker or consultant narrow down the choice of carriers they bring for you. Many high street carriers can also be adapted to become ergonomical (more on this in part 2)! When looking online at purchasing a sling, remember to check that it complies with safety standards (these vary based on location of manufacture – they will normally be stated clearly on the label or packaging). This is important to insure that the buckles, stitching and even fabric dye used are safe and and tested.

Coming up in part 2 – types of carrier

Baby Carrier Regulations

Detailed information about choosing a sling

Sling Safety

One of the most frequent comments I get when wearing Attie or Dilly is “oooh, don’t they look cosy in there, I wish someone would carry me!”. The next most common is is “but what if you fall down, aren’t you worried you’ll drop them?!” – so here’s a quick guide to safety when carrying.

We know all the benefits of babywearing so what are the main risks?

The risks of carrying your baby in a sling are small, and are very similar to those of carrying your baby in your arms – dropping them, falling yourself, but there is also the added risk of blocking a baby’s airway in an incorrectly fitted sling. It’s a good idea to get to a sling library, visit a sling consultant or ask an experienced friend to support you while you get the hang of any sling or carry type.

MOST IMPORTANTLY – in any carrying position, your baby’s airway must be clear.

Babies’ heads are heavy and it takes time for their muscle strength and tone to develop enough to hold up their heads and support their own airways; until then, it is our job as parents to be as caring and careful as we can. A baby’s head should be resting against the caregiver’s chest, with the windpipe straight, not curled over. A good guide is at least two fingers being able to fit between baby’s chin and his chest. Air should be able to circulate freely and the face should not be obscured by fabric, or buried within cleavage. Baby’s cheek can rest against parent’s chest, and hands should be accessible to the mouth for sucking if needed (and not trapped down the side of the sling) – Sheffield Sling Surgery

You can achieve this by following the TICKS guidelines:

TIGHT – slings and carriers should be tight enough to hug your baby close to you as this will be most comfortable for you both. Any slack/loose fabric will allow your baby to slump down in the carrier which can hinder their breathing and pull on your back.

IN VIEW AT ALL TIMES – you should always be able to see your baby’s face by simply glancing down. The fabric of a sling or carrier should not close around them so you have to open it to check on them. In a cradle position your baby should face upwards not be turned in towards your body.

CLOSE ENOUGH TO KISS – your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable. By tipping your head forward you should be able to kiss your baby on the head or forehead.

KEEP CHIN OFF THE CHEST – a baby should never be curled so their chin is forced onto their chest as this can restrict their breathing. Ensure there is always a space of at least a finger width under your baby’s chin.

SUPPORTED BACK – in an upright carry a baby should be held comfortably close to the wearer so their back is supported in its natural position and their tummy and chest are against you. If a sling is too loose they can slump which can partially close their airway. (This can be tested by placing a hand on your baby’s back and pressing gently – they should not uncurl or move closer to you.) A baby in a cradle carry in a pouch or ring sling should be positioned carefully with their bottom in the deepest part so the sling does not fold them in half pressing their chin to their chest. Your baby’s neck and spine are still developing so they should have their knees higher than their bottom with legs in a spread squat position and support from knee to knee although with older babies and toddlers full knee to knee support is not always possible or necessary. Look for an ergonomic carrier to achieve this.

As with anything it is vital to be familiar with the instructions and how to use the carrier. In order to be able to do this effectively it will be important to  understand optimum positioning (see blog post).

It is also of course important to maintain your sling. Follow the manufacturers guidance for washing and cleaning, check for loose stitching, cracked buckles or holes before use. When buying a secondhand sling, try to obtain orginal proof of purchase and a copy of the instructions and ask for detailed photographs before purchasing. Bag slings ARE NOT suitable for young babies and should not be used. If you are unsure about a sling, an Internet search or asking your library or sling consultant will help you.

Slings are not replacements for car seats, and should not be used while cycling, sleeping or doing any dangerous activity. Do not consume alcohol or drugs before carrying your baby and avoid shaking or fall hazards. Remember your centre of gravity will change with the added weight of a baby or toddler and it may take a little while to get used to your new shape.

A good sling should mimic the natural, in-arms upright position for carrying babies, ensuring the caregiver can see and sense the baby at all times, and thus able to be quickly aware of and rapidly responsive to any changes. – Sheffield Sling Surgery

Further reading and resources:

Baby Sling Safety from the NCT – https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/sling-safety

TICKS guidelines in full with thanks to the UK Sling Consortium – http://babyslingsafety.co.uk/

Sling Safety with Young Babies from Sheffield Sling Surgery  – https://sheffieldslingsurgery.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/sling-safety-with-young-babies/

All about the Happy Sling Lady

Hi!

I’m Brianna Dymond and I am the Happy Sling Lady. I am a fully qualified and insured sling consultant and I trained with the Slingababy Training School and offer lots of services in the Birmingham area.

I first started babywearing when my son Attie was born, wrapping him up in a stretchy sling just 3 days after he was born for a quick jolly to get some bread. From there I fell in love with having him so close to me and I think he feels the same as I haven’t been able to put him down since (except when there are big open spaces to run around or Lego to be played with)!

When his sister Dilly was born in April ’17 I carried her from day 1, and having my hands free to continue to play with Attie, prepare food and do household chores made life so much easier. I often wear them both, which means no waiting for lifts with the buggy or being turned away from buses and it also means that Attie can’t run away when we’re in a rush.

Babywearing has supported a lovely, close relationship between me, my partner, my extended family and my children and I am so excited to be able to share the gift of carrying with other families local to me.